Camphausen reflects on school board tenure
— Lauren Camphausen’s journey with Cecil County Public Schools has taken her from CCPS student to CCPS parent and finally, to departing CCPS board of education member.
After eight years on the board, Camphausen attended her last school board meeting as a board member on Monday night. Having served for two terms, including three years as board president, Camphausen wasn’t eligible to run again and her District 2 seat will be taken over by Jim Fazzino, who won an uncontested race for the seat earlier this month.
Change was a constant for Camphausen during her time on the board, having first joined in 2008, right when the national financial crisis was starting, leading to some tough budget times for the school system. During her tenure on the board, she also saw many different curriculum implementations and the completion of several construction projects.
But throughout, Camphausen said she’s been privileged to get an up-close look on everything that goes on at CCPS.
“Education is incredibly complex and requires a significant amount of expertise. Yet, the professional individuals who do it on a daily basis make it look so simple and easy,” she said after Monday’s meeting. “And so that leads us all to have pretty simple opinions about all the things that go on in the school system. And it’s really been a privilege for me to learn the ins-and-outs of building and maintaining a successful school system.”
Though her time on the board saw the completion of several construction projects, Camphausen counts the opening of the Cecil County School of Technology as one of the most “tangible highlights” of her tenure.
There were many times when it looked like school would never open, so finally seeing students enter its doors in August 2015 was especially rewarding, she said.
Camphausen’s time on the board has also coincided with what she describes as a “re-awakening of community advocacy” as more people have begun speaking up for the schools and their needs, she said.
“It’s not that people haven’t always been outspoken and involved in the system, but I think there’s a real kind of collective energy around that now,” she said.
It’s that collective energy Camphausen hopes to harness as she moves into a new role with CCPS. Starting in January, Camphausen will lead an effort to start up a countywide parent advisory council. Board policy states that the board should have an advisory council, though the board has gone back and forth on what that group should look like.
Though it’s still early in the planning stages, Camphausen emphasized that the council wouldn’t be just for advocacy, but it would also give parents a chance to understand the inner workings of CCPS, including more complex topics such as Common Core and the A/B block schedule.
But as she looks to the future, Camphausen is confident her seat is in good hands. Camphausen said she was impressed with the way Fazzino ran his campaign, noting he spent most of his time learning about the schools’ needs instead of politicking.
“I can’t really give him any advice,” she said. “I would say just for him to continue moving in the direction he’s already started in and I think he’s going to do great things.”
But though her time on the board has come to an end, Camphausen said it’s been an honor to see the “daily dedication” of CCPS employees and she’s confident those relationships will continue as she moves into the next stage of her journey with CCPS.
“Knowing I’m sending my kids off to a system that just, across the board, people are so dedicated and care so much for the safety and wellbeing of our students,” she said. “It’s been a blessing that not many, parents especially, get to have. I will always cherish that.”
Lauren Camphausen, center, poses with school board president Dawn Branch, left, and Superintendent D’Ette Devine after her final meeting as a school board member.